President Goodluck Jonathan has said his administration has no plan sell the four refineries in the country, contrary to widespread reports that the move has received his blessings.
President Jonathan, who made this known through his spokesman, Reuben Abati, was reacting yesterday to reports that he had given the go-ahead for the privatisation of Port Harcourt Refining Company Ltd. (PHRC) I, Port Harcourt Refining Company Ltd. (PHRC) II, Kaduna Refining and Petrochemical Company Ltd. (KRPC) and Warri Refining and Petrochemical Company Ltd. (WRPC) and also approved the setting up of a steering committee headed by the Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke.
Plans to sell the nation’s four ailing refineries came to light in October 2013 when Mrs. Alison-Madueke said in an interview with Bloomberg TV Africa in London that the four refineries were going to be sold to private investors.
“We would like to see major infrastructural entities such as refineries moving out of government hands into the private sector. Government does not want to be in the business of running major infrastructure entities and we haven’t done a very good job at it over all these years,” the minister was quoted to have said.
This was also corroborated by the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE) in a statement issued on December 20 by its head of public communications, Chigbo Anichebe, who announced that Jonathan had approved the privatisation of the nation’s four refineries with the constitution of a steering committee consisting of stakeholders from relevant ministries and agencies for the privatisation process a step towards actualizing the plan.
“The committee will review the diagnostic reports and recommendations of the transaction advisors and make recommendations to the NCP, propose modalities and make recommendations on labour matters to ensure a successful privatisation. They will also oversee the general process, make recommendations, carry out any other ancillary activities relevant to the attainment of the goals of the Federal Government in the privatisation of the nation’s refineries”, the BPE’s statement had said.
The Petroleum and Natural Gas Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (PENGASSAN) and the National Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), subsequently, had threatened to down tools if the government went ahead with its plan to sell the refineries.
But Abati, who spoke with State House correspondents yesterday in Abuja, said that the Federal Government had no plans to sell the refineries.
The presidential spokesman added that there was also no presidential approval for the sale of the refineries.
He, therefore, urged PENGASSAN and NUPENG to drop their threat to embark on strike, saying “the government is not going to sell any refineries. There is no such plan and there is no presidential approval for such. Nobody, not even the Minister of Petroleum Resources, has powers to sell any government property”.